How Classroom Design May Impact Learning in Bible Classes

There are as many different classroom environments in Bible classes for kids and teens as there are churches. Some classes have a space they can decorate, while others have a shared space that can’t be changed. Some Bible class teachers have large classrooms, while others can barely fit their students in the room.

Does the environment in which a Bible class is held impact learning? Can making a few changes in the room improve student learning? The short answer is yes. Thankfully, secular educators have done studies on classroom design and learning. We can use their findings to improve our own learning environments.

The ideal learning environment will take into consideration the learning needs of your students. Most children learn best in environments that are bright and colorful, with ample decorations. If your students have certain special needs, however, too much visual stimulation can be overwhelming and actually inhibit learning. It is important to know as much as you can about your students as you begin planning how you will decorate your learning environment.

Secular researchers have analyzed everything from furniture placement to wall colors to find which environments are optimum for learning. While you may or may not be able to control the various aspects of your classroom, it is important to understand the impact the current environment may have on your students and their ability to learn.

Since Bible classes are often geared towards working in groups, arranging furniture so students are sitting in circles can enhance they group dynamic. Avoid placing students in rows when at all possible, as this can discourage student participation – especially for children sitting on the back rows.

It is extremely important to avoid placing too much furniture in a space that is too small. This can create what appear to be behavior problems, when there is actually too little room for children to move about without running into something. In some cases, it may be best to remove all of the furniture and have students sit on carpet squares on the floor, giving them ample space to move, create and learn.

Perhaps the most challenging classroom environment is when multiple groups are sharing a large open space like a gym or an outdoor playground. In those cases, it is best to put as much physical space between the groups as possible. Moveable rug squares can absorb some background noise indoors. Vegetation or natural barriers can provide a similar noise reduction function in outdoor spaces. It may also help to coordinate schedules with the other teachers so one group is not trying to do an activity that requires quiet, while the other class is involved in an extremely noisy activity.

Even something as simple as the color of the paint on the walls can impact learning. Yellow walls for example, create a bright, cheerful room. If students are in the room for multiple hours though, they can experience eye fatigue. Green walls can be calming and stimulate creativity, but they can also cause students to become bored more quickly. Blue walls can communicate security and increase creativity, but they can also give students a feeling of an aloof environment. As you can see, learning environments have many nuances and there are not necessarily perfect answers for every possible aspect.

While decorations in the classroom can engage students, avoid cluttering the room with too many decorations and objects. Experts recommend at least twenty to fifty percent of the wall space should be without decoration. Try walking into your classroom as if seeing it for the first time. Do the decorations make you want to learn more about God and the Bible or do they just leave you feeling overwhelmed? Each student’s personality will play a part in their reaction to the classroom environment, but you should be able to find a middle ground where every student is motivated to learn.

Even lighting can impact student learning. Lots of sunlight is best, so open any blinds or curtains. Lamps create a homelike atmosphere, so when possible use those instead of overhead lighting. Also be aware that fluorescent lighting can distract children with certain special needs.

Temperature and air flow can also impact the ability of students to focus on the lesson. If the room is too hot, cold or stuffy, students will only be thinking about how uncomfortable they are at the moment. Bringing in your own fan or electric space heater can help you make the classroom a bit more comfortable. If you know in advance, you can also ask parents to dress their children in ways that will provide more comfort in the challenging climate of your classroom.

One of the problems many volunteer teachers face is that their classroom is a shared space. You may not have the ability to decorate your room or even move the furniture. In those cases, you should focus on what you can do in the space rather than what you are not allowed to do.

Often the best solution requires more effort on your part, but allows you to create a welcoming learning environment for your students. Think of items you can bring into the room with you each class period to make the environment more pleasant and interesting. It may be a lamp, a portable heater or interesting or unusual objects students can explore. Just a few extra items can make a huge difference in the classroom environment – even if they are only there temporarily.

Taking the time to make your classroom space more conducive to learning can make the difference for some of the students in your Bible class. It is worth doing what you can to make your learning environment the best it can possibly be.

Note: The information in this post is an excerpt from our new e-book: Effective Ministry to Children. It should be available on our website soon. We will alert you once it is available to download.

Categories Classroom Management, Elementary, Preschool, Special Needs, Teens
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close